Channel 4 have released a new YouGov poll of marginal seats that projects a Conservative majority of between 60-70 seats were it to be repeated at a general election.

The last time YouGov carried out a marginals poll like this was at the tail end of October, when the Labour lead in national polls had narrowed to high single figures, but had get to reach the tighter position we saw towards the end of last year. Back then it showed the shares of support in the target seats at CON 43%, LAB 38%, LDEM 12%. Today that has moved to CON 43%, LAB 36%, LDEM 13% – so there has been a slight move against Labour. This is, again, pretty much in line with YouGov’s national polls which showed a 8 point Tory lead back in October and an 11 point Tory lead now. The movements in the marginal seats seem to be much the same as the national picture.

Expectations on the economy are low – only 14% say they agree with the government’s predictions that the economy will turn around this year. 41% think Britain will not come out of recession till 2010 and 32% think it will be even longer. They are also very pessimistic about whether the government’s actions to tackle the crisis will work. A rather pathetic 2% think they will make a big difference, 23% think they will make a small difference, but that this is worth the money. 35% think they will make a small difference and are a waste of money, 29% think they will do nothing at all.

Taking a slightly wider view on how the government have responded to the crisis, the public in marginal seats are split more evenly. 12% think they have responded well, 32% think have moved in the right direction, albeit not quickly or effectively enough – giving about 44% of people in marginal seats with a broadly positive view. In contrast, 18% think their strategy is wrong and they are doing more harm than good and 26% think they are taking panic measures with no clear strategy at all.

A large majority of people in marginals expect that the borrowing now will result in spending cuts or tax hikes later, the only difference is how large they expect them to be. 32% expect some spending cuts or tax hikes, 40% expect “big” cuts or tax hikes. Only 9% expect ecnonomic growth alone to deal with the present borrowing.

Moving on, there is agreement (58% agree, 33% disagree) that Gordon Brown is refusing to acknowledge the depth of the crisis. However, there is also agreement that “David Cameron is talking the economy down for political purposes” – 53% agree, 30% disagree. There is also strong agreement that the last Conservative government did little or nothing to help the victims of recession in the 1980s. This statement was agreed with by 60% of people, however, a significant minority (40%) of those people expected that David Cameron would do far more to help people than Thatcher’s government did in the 1980s.

Another question that caught my eye was on who was to blame for Britain’s economic problems. There have been countless polls asking this sort of question over the past months, but annoyingly few that have repeated the same wording, letting us see if people are blaming the government more or less as time passes and arguments come and go. Here YouGov have used the same words, and we can see the position has steadied, with blame firmly upon the banks. When YouGov first asked the question of people in marginal seats in September blame was spread between the general international situation in the food and energy markets (26%), irresponsible banks (36%) and the government’s policies (29%). By October blame has focused squarely upon the banks (61%, with 11% saying general international situation and 21% the government). Today’s poll shows little change, 7% international conditions, 63% the banks and 22% the government.

Finally, YouGov asked if people in marginal seats thought George Osborne or Ken Clarke would make a better chancellor after the next election. 39% backed Ken to George’s 15%. Amongst Tory voters they backed Ken by 46% to 28% for George.


95 Responses to “YouGov poll of marginal seats”

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  1. But it IS the point James.

    If you want REAL abuse just take a look at what they’re saying about him in the blogospere!

    In my life, and doubtless yours too, I have been both the subject and the perpetrator of various ‘damn rude personal insults’. Why should GB be any different?

    The Daily Mirror published this headline last month;

    “George W Bush’s legacy: The global village idiot”
    With an accompanying story containing various nasty, personal and also racial, mostly unsubstantiated, claims of a derisory manner.

    Did you leap out of your pram at this abuse?
    No. I wonder why?

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  2. Any ideas when the next polls are due?

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  3. I love how Clarkson has carefully apologised for his remark about Brown’s “personal appearance” – thus apologising for the one-eyed partly while neatly standing by having called him an idiot.

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  4. part not partly (any chance of an edit button on here?)

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  5. Tony K – Populus should be on Tuesday, unless there’s something at the weekend.

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  6. James Ludlow – Oh yes that hub of breaking political news! That must have slipped by every other media outlet. Jesus you for real?

    NB – What Clarkson said was appaliing and this moron realised right away what he said and tried to back track. He’s your typical borish Mail/express appealing tool. The guy doesn’t hasn’t got a clue and should be sacked.

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  7. IVAN THE TERRIBLE

    “But it IS the point James.

    If you want REAL abuse just take a look at what they’re saying about him in the blogospere!”

    It IS NOT THE POINT.

    The abusive and offensive comment Clarkson made about the PM has be Broadcast with a more direct style of delivery and with a much much wider audience than comments on the Web.

    I think that what appears to be your defence of such comments illustrates there may be a number of OFFENSIVE, ABUSIVE, INCONSIDERATE and UNCARING INDIVIDUALS in this country.

    Would you like it if you were partially sighted or completely blind and someone called you a ‘one eyed idiot’? If you do, some people may conclude that to support such a comment means that they are as LOW as such comments themselves.

    As Carol Thatcher was rightly sacked from the One Show for her ‘Goliwog’ remark Clarkson should be SACKED from the BBC altogether.

    Sorry Anthony, although this is not a forum for such a discussion I felt I needed to reply.

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  8. @ Chris – other than trolling, do you have anything useful to contribute? Why exactly do you object to the British Journal of Photography reporting on legislation that will affect photographers? I get the impression you’d rather the legislation was just allowed to slip through unnoticed. How very New Labour.

    NB – there’s nothing very “appalling” about what Clarkson said. Around two-thirds of the country holds much the same opinion of Brown, though some might express it more politely. Perhaps we should have a poll …

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  9. Oh, and Clarkson is a totally useless political journalist.

    He should stick to commentating on Cars. He should keep his sticky beak out of Politics. On this subject he does not have a damn clue and totally lacks political nous.

    His ‘One-Eyed Idiot’ comment is a pure and simple illustration of this.

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  10. I’m curious, James. Are you proposing that only authorised people should comment on politics? That’s not really how democracy works, you know.

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  11. Chris

    Have you ever heard of the phrase “double standards”
    your insults about Clarkson ( and to other posters here) puts you in a different leauge to Clarkson!!

    Good job spitting image isnt still on the TV today Clarksons comments would have been nothing compared to what THEY would have served up for GB and his merry men (oh sorry and women)

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  12. I notice that latest UKPR average is a 12% Tory lead giving a 68 seat majority; in 1997 Labour led by 13% and won a majority of 179. An example of why that is the case can be illustrated by looking at the new Cambridgeshire constituencies, most of which are Conservative held and most of which probably already have electorates of 80,000 voters or more. The same thing is true in a number of other counties. By contrast most of the seats in Glasgow have less than 65,000 voters even though the latest Scottish boundary review was supposed to correct that bias.

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  13. The difference between what Clarkson said about Brown and the Likes of carol Thatcher or Jonathan Ross is that Clarksons target was a Politician in the public eye who has chosen to be there as opposed to an innocent bystander.

    I wouldn’t have an issue with someone making a Joke about me, I am fair game, but if he made a cripple joke about my daughter ( who is in a wheelchair) I’d be livid.

    Peter.

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  14. Andy Stidwill,

    Not only do the constituency sizes lean in favour of Labour there are several other factors at play.

    For instance, generally turnout is better amongst Tory voters than Labour voters, so the actual turnout is generally higher in Conservative constituencies.

    Peter,

    It could be argued that Carol Thatcher’s comment wasn’t derogatory (for instance if she had called a ginger tennis player a carrot it would not be derogatory). Just by calling someone something it does not instantly brand them a racist. Clarkson on the other hand managed to imply that by being blind you are incompetent, that is not on.

    To be honest, I think people have become too sensitive with regards to what some people say. Is this a sad reflection of us now?

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  15. Alasdair Cameron,

    You say that all Prime Ministers should be treated with a certain respect. What about Hitler?

    I do believe that all people however they conduct themselves should be treated with a certain fundamental respect as human beings. But beyond that respect is earned whatever a person’s job or title!

    You said that you are concerned about the authoritarianism of this government, but the claim to deserve special respect regardless of the quality of conduct simply because of a position is the foundation upon which authoritarianism is built. People have been beguiled by emperors, kings, popes, headmasters, and even parents for thousands of years by that deceptive argument.

    There is also the matter of freedom of speech. Politeness and political correctness can be a means of pacifying protest. And to bring my comment back towards the core purpose of this site, there is an increasing voice of protest and criticism towards Gordon Brown.

    They include not just people like Jeremy Clarkson but most recently from the Prime Minister of France. Each made their own comments according to the context which is an important thing to remember.

    I hope you don’t mind me pointing out what seems to me to be fuzzy thinking.

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  16. JAMES LUDLOW

    “I’m curious, James. Are you proposing that only authorised people should comment on politics? That’s not really how democracy works, you know.”

    February 6th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Yes I do know that that is not how democracy works. I am not making any such suggestion.

    I am merely saying that Clarkson is a specialist in the Automotive sector and his comment about the PM combined with his political articles may appear to many to illustrate that he should not stray into the political arena.

    There are minimum standards which should not be breached. There is no way he should make such comments so publicly.

    I am not suggesting that such people must be whiter than white, we are all falible but such people should be very careful what they say in public.

    Clarkson combined with the Russel Brand and Johnathan Ross and Carol Thatcher debacles along with the fact that they get paid small fortunes (not so much concerning Carol Thatcher) makes me feel like refusing to pay my TV License.

    Why should the license payer subsidise the totally questionable antics of such obscenely overpaid people.

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  17. With regards Coral Thatcher I would like to know exactly who reported her to the BBC

    Because it would be interesting if they were interviewed on TV and asked YOU EVER made a remark in public or private which could be classed as offensive to someone else

    I would like to know their answer

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  18. @ James Thurston – my major beef with the BBC is that it keeps apologising. It’s become a cringing, fearful organisation that abases itself before one or other Disgusted of Tonbridge Wells type on an almost daily basis.

    And, other than in the BBC’s desperation not to offend anyone, the instances of Brand/Ross, Thatcher and Clarkson have very little in common. The first targeted a particular elderly individual on air and rather nastily and pointlessly. The second was an unbroadcast private remark that only made headlines because one of two self-appointed Thought Police happened to overhear it. And the third is a remark made about the most unpopular PM since Chamberlain expressing a basic sentiment that much of the country would seem to agree with, even if the exact language used was perhaps clumsy.

    As for licence fee payers – from the numbers of complaints about Thatcher (130 yesterday) versus support for her (3500 yesterday), it would seem that her sacking has annoyed considerably more licence fee payers than did her remark.

    And of course Clarkson has every right to express his political views, just as do the rest of us. The fact that his get reported more widely than do, say, the views of my postman is neither here nor there. What qualifications, exactly, do you think public figures should have before you would permit them to voice their political opinions?

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  19. JAMES LUDLOW

    “@ James Thurston – my major beef with the BBC is that it keeps apologising. It’s become a cringing, fearful organisation that abases itself before one or other Disgusted of Tonbridge Wells type on an almost daily basis.”

    The BBC has become a cringing, fearful organisation through no other fault than its own. It has allowed itself to lift the restraint on what it broadcasts by permitting a number of its key public figures such as Russell Brand, Clarkson et al run away with themselves with what many may perceive as their rude insulting mouths.

    There is no doubt that the BBC has drmatically Dumbed-Down its Broadcasting quality and as License Payers – which it has to be said is a small fortune these days – these people should be held accountable and should in no way rip us off with their rediculous Salaries.

    Can we all presume that since you appear to very strongly defend the disgraceful comments of Clarkson that you approve of what many may view as an apparent abuse of Public Celebrity??

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  20. As for licence fee payers – from the numbers of complaints about Thatcher (130 yesterday) versus support for her (3500 yesterday), it would seem that her sacking has annoyed considerably more licence fee payers than did her remark.

    Just because there was an organised response from the far right Mail and Express reader under the banner of freedom of speech doesn’t make what she said (several times) less offensive. If you think what she said was ok, try saying this at work today and use this excuse at your tribunal.

    The reason she’s got so much support i because of her surname – if a Labour Minister had said this guarantee a different response from these blinkered Cons.

    NB the only fault of the BBC was to sack her. She was only a guest on this show, all they had to do was never invite this irrelevant woman back. She wouldn’t be getting all this support she certainly doesn’t deserve.

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  21. Maybe we have the makings of a new TV reality show complete with public telephone voting;

    “Sack me, I am a celebrity”,

    Why have management make decisions made on the basis of policy and ethics when we can rake in the cash getting people to phone in and vote.

    Peter.

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  22. The sacking of Carol Thatcher was a terrified BBC management running scared. In my opinion I feel that there are many callers whom enjoy getting offended for others in order to prove how good people they are. This echoes of Prince Charles nickname for his friend “sooty”, if this sooty wasn’t offended then the PC brigade should back off. I fear that this may be true for the Thatcher incident.

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  23. I may be part of the so called politically correct brigade but Thatchers remarks (like Ron Atkinson a few years ago) are totally unacceptable.
    If someone in my company made such a remark whilst working they would be fired and quite right too.
    What do you expect though from the daughter of someone who called Mandela a terrorist and whose father made oodles out of dealings with Apartheid South Africa.
    Regarding caller numbers if she had not been sacked it would have been ther other way round, people don’t generally call to support actions.
    This is part of the nasty party, swamped, cricket test Tory modern history.
    Even thoiugh I am not a Tory I genuinely think Cam is a different kind of Conservative but this can not help him trying to woe Ethnic minority (and liberal white) voters.

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  24. Jim if that is your case then you ought to equally condemn the comments made about Lady Thatcher on IQ earlier this evening- comments rediculing an elderly, largely defencless and now rather ill woman. Oh wait, the hypocrasy of the lefties astounds. Its only offensive if you guys say so.

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  25. Don’t watch QI but if the remarks are not only offensive but reinfiorce a steriotypical negative image based on centuries of subjugation and discrimianation I will be as critical of the offender as I am of Carol Thatcher.
    I am reguarly offended but don’t call for sackings and recognise some are offended when I am not. Offence in itself is not a sacking matter It is the context and history which renders CTs comments beyond pure offence.
    Clarkson’s remarks are offensive but he is clearly not suggesting disability disqualifies a person from high office.
    As such, insulting but not on a level with CT; apology enough.

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  26. Jim, Brand was one of the people that ‘stormed out’ following Carol Thatchers remarks (which ought to have been dealt with oputside of the public arena), but later one made horrid and frankly dreadful jokes at Lady Thatcher (who is ill, elderly and confused). Hypocrasy of lefties and PC brigade members leaves us with these such double standards in our national ethics.

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  27. Dean,

    Like it or not all elected politicians are fair game, because they have chosen to be in the pubic eye. Brand and Ross attacked someone’s’ granddaughter for fun and the person they did it to was an actor but hardly someone who had done anything wrong, other than not being able to appear on their show.

    In that respect he really didn’t deserve it.

    Clarkson is like Boris or Prince Philip, gaff prone someone people rightly or wrongly who people laugh at. Cars or not Top Gear is a comedy light entertainment programme. To be honest I’ve heard worse insults thrown at Brown in the Commons.

    Thatcher now being old doesn’t mean that she is any less a target she will always be the person people associate with a certain period and policies, that is part of their legacy.

    I have seen worse things said about Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela on
    “Have I Got News for You” so it’s hardly PC or left wing bias.

    Peter.

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  28. Peter,

    You are rather missing my point, what i’m saying is that most the most vocally critical people of Boris or Ross tend to excuse the Brands out there when its suits their Gaurdian reading mentality.
    when you say: “I have seen worse things said about Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela on “Have I Got News for You”, I agree you have, but Thatcher is seriously ill, fragile and commonly forgets her husband is dead. Her face, appearance, name isn’t up for ridicule- or at least ought not to be. Her political record is fair game as you say, but Brand did’nt refer to that- only her appearence etc. Its not morally defencible. There is a line to be drawn here.

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  29. Dean,

    ” what i’m saying is that most the most vocally critical people of Boris or Ross tend to excuse the Brands out there when its suits their Gaurdian reading mentality.”

    Have you anything approaching evidence for that or are you just another Tory student blogger pushing opinion as fact.

    Peter.

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  30. Facts are what you are seeking is it: ok- have a look at this weblink below:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/vote2001/in_depth/election_battles/1987_over.stm

    Lord Tebbit in one of the internal expansions refers to exactly this obsession of gaurdian reading dominating BBC opinion, and the early rise of the PC brigade.

    This is a damn more than you can offer up in defence of independence other than meaningless claptrap concerning emotion.

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  31. Peter,

    Saying “another” assumes there are more. Have you anything approaching evidence for that, or are you just pushing opinion as fact?

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  32. Neil

    “Saying “another” assumes there are more. Have you anything approaching evidence for that, or are you just pushing opinion as fact?”

    February 14th, 2009 at 5:50 am

    I is totally rediculous to suggest that there is only one Tory blogger. I know that Tory support is very low amonst the Student population, however I did not think it is that low!!

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  33. Blast! I hit the submit button too early.

    “I is totally rediculous to suggest that there is only one Tory blogger. I know that Tory support is very low amonst the Student population, however I did not think it is that low!!”

    is men to read:

    “It is totally rediculous to suggest that there is only one Tory blogger. I know that Tory support is very low amonst the Student population, however I did not think it is that low!!”

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  34. Oh dear.

    I take it the rest of you did understand my post.

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  35. Neil,

    If you want evidence of the kind of blog I am referring to then just log on to the BBc comments page on any of it’s political blogs or any from the major news papers. they are replete with posts from left right and centre that claim ” we all know” “it’s a fact that” etc etc.

    The Tories aren’t the only culprit but I stand by another. there are very few of them here, mainly because they get pretty short shrift from the rest of us when they can’t back up there assertions with information.

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  36. Peter,

    I take your point, a lot of that does go on. But I think it is unfair to tar Dean with that brush, he was making a perfectly valid observation – if you want an example have a look at Derek Draper’s ramblings on LabourList.

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  37. Neil,

    What Derek Draper posts on Labour list is up to him, and if he says it on Labourlist that’s fine be me.

    I don’t really look at Labourlist and if I do and have an issue with it, I’d reply there.

    This site is dominated by people who discuss what the polls are indicating about public opinion as opposed to those who attack polls that indicate things they don’t like.

    I’d like it to stay that way.

    Peter.

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  38. “This site is dominated by people who discuss what the polls are indicating about public opinion as opposed to those who attack polls that indicate things they don’t like.

    I’d like it to stay that way.

    Peter.”

    Get over yourself, i’ve provided you with the information links, evidence you requested. Please do not assume that I am someone who deserves to “get pretty short shrift from the rest of us when they can’t back up there assertions with information”

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  39. I agree with you Peter, I would like it to stay that way too.

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  40. Dean, I agree with you too, what you said was right, and I suspect Peter is disagreeing for the sake of argument.

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  41. Does Scotland really have any marginals at Westminster other than perahps Argyll & Bute, edin South?

    Most other marginals used to be Tory strongholds, and they appear to be heading that way again (based on current 20%-tory, 12%lib Dem polling gap). In my book marginals are seats with a history of changing hands, and to be honest Scotland since 1979 has had steeadily less of these.

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  42. Wont dissaffeffected Labour voters generally switch toLib Dem. [Perceived to be closer ideologically] .
    Are we underestimating Lib Dems chances of progress
    I’m new to this and welcome your thoughts..Dean, Peter,James.

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  43. @Nick

    “Are we underestimating Lib Dems chances of progress”

    Well, in terms of Scotland the Lib Dems have steadily failed to pick themselves up off the 12% mark,

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  44. Sorry pressed wrong button….

    continued:

    with the exception of one recent YouGov poll result which placed them on 13%… so underestimating Lib Dem chances, nope. Unless they show some kind of polling improvement they seem to be making little if any progress at all.

    Prob two main factors:

    1. removal of Kennedy (bitter taste left in many liberal mouths)
    2. bad rep since they cooperated in the Lab-Lib holyrood coalition, since discredited administeration.

    “Wont dissaffeffected Labour voters generally switch toLib Dem. [Perceived to be closer ideologically] .”

    I’d say it varies from constituency to constituency. After all, in Stirling the Lib vote seems to be expected to go the the tories, and the labour vote decline to the SNP, however in places like Dumfries & Galloway the trend seems to indicate the Lib vote going to other parties in an effort to ‘keep the tories out’- so at this point I couldn’t generalise where the rather fickle lib dem vote will go (nationally speaking).

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  45. Nick,

    While some disaffected Labour voters may well choose to vote LD in Scotland (as they will probably do in their tens (if not hundreds) of thousands in England, it is unlikely to help the LDs win any new seats, and may not be enough to retain those most at threat.

    Almost all the LD seats in Scotland are former Tory seats (not that different to England). Of their current Scottish seats the exceptions are Dunfermline (won at a by-election) Dumbarton East, which was won from Labour in 2005, but actually contains a large part of the old Strathkelvin & Bearsden seat which had been a Tory/SNP/Lab marginal until 1987, and Caithness & Sutherland, which effectively became LD when the incumbent defected from Labour to SDP in 1981, and then to SLD and finally to LD.

    Inverness has been a 4-way marginal in the past, and the SNP held the equivalent Holyrood seat by a substantial margin in 2007, so LDs are unlikely to hold on.

    Both Gordon and Argyll & Bute are seats which had been mainly Tory for decades until 1983 & 1987, and are likely to become SNP/Tory marginals in the future.

    In other LD seats at risk from the improvement in Tory fortunes in Scotland the LDs have already squeezed the Labour vote to its hard core.

    Of the handful of Scottish seats where LDs are second, all are currently Labour held, and one is a 3-way marginal, so LD gains in Scotland are unlikely, while losses are probable.

    I would estimate LDs holding 6-9 seats in Scotland at next election (from 12 now), and will fall from 2nd largest party by seats won to third or even fourth.

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